How serendipitous

The past two days I’ve turned down two invites to join fantasy baseball leagues, the rationale being a) general laziness and b) I’m sick of having to pretend to give a shit about stats such as Wins, Saves, Runs Scored, RBI’s and Stolen Bases, all of which range from mostly to totally useless, as any well-informed baseball fan will tell you.

Then today I had an idea for a long and wordy post about how the reason such simple, easy to remember and yet also largely pointless and/or stupid stats continue to be a staple even in the Information Age is symptomatic of the larger issues afflicting society: complacence, willful ignorance, and just a general inclination toward apathy in the face of progress. I would have speculated as to the results of an experiment that looked for a correlation between people’s “baseball views” (meaning have they embraced or rejected the advances in player evaluation and projection) and their leanings on the larger issues where the degenerative disease of ignorance plays such a factor, such as politics and religion.

And then I stumbled onto this, and the need for bloviating and having to actually conduct such an experiment disappeared in an instant. For here is a small but random sampling that feeds into my (admittedly non-earth shattering) hypothesis: if you’re stupid when it comes to baseball, you’re stupid when it comes to the bigger things. The same character flaw plays a large part in both.

The author of this Yankees blog posted the latest 2010 PECOTA team projections from Baseball Prospectus, a highly respected organization that, amongst other things, uses a tested, constantly-updated algorithm to project individual and team performance. They’re generally pretty damn accurate, though of course, no such system will ever be perfect, for obvious reasons. They had the Yankees finishing in 2nd place next year in the AL East, 2 games behind the Red Sox.

The Yankee fans were quite unhappy with this. Damn newfangled statistics! they shouted through cyberspace. Their guess is no better than mine!

None of this is new. Here’s what’s new. Here’s what these same liver-spotted-fist-shaking cranky old curmudgeons (in spirit if not in physical age) also had to say:

Sounds like PECOTA has some global warming people on their staff.

Actually, I believe in global warming. I just don’t believe it the way it has been spun. The Bible is very clear that in the end time (tribulation) God will burn the earth with fire. Also, keep in mind that before the flood the earth was warm 24/7 and it Never rained.

Re: PECOTA, here’s a joke I use with juries when I have scientific or expert witnesses against me:

A scientist is doing an experiment on a frog. He cuts off one leg and tells the frog to jump and it does. Scientist notes in his log that the frog jumped. Scientist cuts off the second leg, tells the frog to jump and it jumps. Scientist notes this. The scientist cuts off the third leg, tells the frog to jump and it does, and he makes a note.

The scientist cuts off the fourth leg, tells the frog to jump but it doesn’t. He tells it again, but the frog doesn’t move. Scientist writes in his log: “Frog with no legs deaf.”

Just because a scientist tells you something, doesn’t mean he’s come to the right conclusion. Common Sense still prevails.

There’s more, but there’s three specific ones that show how once you’re infected with clownish dumbfuckery it infects your whole body, so to speak, not just one area. The same people who are stupid about the baseball issue likewise demonstrate their stupidity with

1. Denying the existence of global warming despite overwhelming scientific consensus in the affirmative.
2. Affirming belief in a preordained end of the world, as well as the Great Flood story, belief singularly based on the word of a debunked tome from the Bronze Age.
3. Using deceptive wordplay, fallacious argument and sloganeering as a means to justify dismissing educated analysis and cold-hard data (Gee, sound like anyone we know?).

The conclusion here is that people usually aren’t just stupid when it comes to one area. If you get one thing wrong, the faulty logic and ignorance you based that view on is very likely to have had the same effect on your other positions. So, for example, if you’re a baseball fan who stubbornly claims that your eyes are a better judge of a players performance than the pages of excruciatingly detailed data collected over a season, then you’re likely the type of person who will look out your window, see snow, and conclude global warming is bullshit. If you got the one thing wrong, it’s probably not the only one.

Thus explaining this.

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